On the campaign trail last year, “Build Back Better” was Biden’s answer to Trump’s now infamous slogan, “Make America Great Again.” As a sort of extension of U.S. domestic policy, the participants of the G7 Summit, which is concluding this weekend in Cornwall, will launch the “Build Back Better World” partnership. This initiative is intended to “help meet the tremendous infrastructure need in low- and middle-income countries,” according to a White House statement.
Specifically, the plan will target countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Indo-Pacific. It is intended to mobilize private sector capital to boost projects in four areas: climate, health security, digital technology, and gender equality, in addition to having investments from financial institutions. The initiative will amount to $40 billion; each G7 country will have a different “geographic focus.”
Of course, the global initiative is in reality a mechanism of imperialism. Each of the imperialist countries that make up the group will seek to reinforce the oppression they exercise over their own “backyards” in an attempt to hinder China’s advance in the world arena through its Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to modernize infrastructure and telecommunications to improve connectivity between Asia and Europe.
The U.S. government said its infrastructure initiative is a collaboration between the world’s “major democracies” to carry out “a values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership.” The plan would be a way to offer something to the developing world by guiding with a firm hand the “complex decisions” it must make in response to issues like climate change and crumbling economies and healthcare systems.
These catch phrases are only meant to disguise the real intentions of G7 to reinforce the dependence of the “developing world” on the world’s imperialist powers. By “investing in infrastructure” in dependent countries, specifically in cutting-edge technologies such as telecommunications, what the imperialist countries are really doing is deepening technological dependence and thus guaranteeing their own political influence.
This is the model that China has successfully copied, which today worries the “leaders of the free world” of the G7. And although the Asian giant has not yet disrupted world hegemony, the fact is that it is the second largest economy and the main strategic competitor to U.S. imperialism.
The significance of this competition for the United States is evident in the new plan by the G7. Biden is trying to restore the United States’ role as the undisputed global hegemon, which it held on to in the years after World War II. But the economic and political conditions that allowed its rise were extinguished and today, while the United States still may be the main imperialist power in the world, it is now an empire in decline.
This loss of power — these signs of vulnerability — can be seen both internally and externally. Internally, Biden announced with great fanfare his plans to revive the economy in the post-pandemic period, but the populist moment of the U.S. president has not yet materialized, more because of defections within his own party than because of the resounding refusal of the Republicans to approve his projects in Congress.
Externally, the White House has had to acknowledge that there are “some differences of opinion” among the G7 leaders on “how strong” the pressure on Beijing should be. For example, Italy is willing to take a softer stance towards China, which makes sense given the fact that it received several shipments of medical aid from China during the height of the pandemic, while its apparent “allies” in the West were slow to help. Further, in 2019, the Mediterranean country joined the Silk Road.
It is very difficult to anticipate how this dispute will develop and what its timeline will be. Will the United States be able to bring the rest of the G7 countries over to its side in its confrontation with China, or will the declining world power provoke a disbandment of its traditional allegiances? Though much is uncertain, it is clear that a much more turbulent scenario is coming and that the workers of the world should not trust the pitiful offers of “investment and development” of the competing world powers.
Originally published in Spanish on June 12, 2021 in La Izquierda Diario.